With extra hugs to Trish. Have you read her 28 for 29 interview yet?
All photos taken on 35mm film in Copenhagen this August.
This week, like too many other weeks in 2012, the news is painful and noisy – and so are the calls to action.
I head home tomorrow, and though there’s a lot to do-do-do in the coming few weeks, I want to spend them focusing as best I can on quiet reflection, on gratitude for my hometown and family and on being really present with and connected to my communities. If calls-to-action that resonate with me present themselves, I’ll respond and I’ll share them. But mostly I want the world to get ready to make some seriously peaceful and productive resolutions, and then act on them together, in 2013.
And I want to get ready myself, so I plan to post at least twelve times between now and the end of the year, in an effort to revisit and learn from some of 2012′s kinder moments, like the beach day above. Hold me to it.
Photos: 35mm film, early March 2012, near Greenport, NY.
Storm. Election. Looming end-of-year bustle. If I had to choose one word to describe how early November felt to me, it would be “surreal.”
I’m working on a second round-up of post-Sandy resources and stories, but in the meantime, if we can, let’s all take a deep breath.
I took all of these photos in Copenhagen this August, in between the wedding festivities. Speaking of which, I finally shared all of those photos with Kim and Sigurd, so I’ll post more wedding images here soon. In the meantime, inhale, exhale, inhalere, udånder…
More from the backlog of summertime photos.
We moved to Chicago in July. Within three days, I received this email from my friend Kira, who lives in Maryland but used to call the Windy City home: “Hey, Random question – what’s your daytime availability like over the next couple of days? I have a surprise for you to pick up, but would need to know if mornings or afternoons work better for you. xo”
I named a morning. She sent me step-by-step public transportation instructions, telling me to call her when I got off the bus at the corner of Ashland and Chicago for further details.
Instead, when the morning came, I borrowed a car, figuring I would combine my surprise adventure with a grocery run. I typed the intersection into a GPS. The gas tank was full. I felt good.
Forty-five minutes later I realized…there’s more than one “Ashland & Chicago.” Poor Kira. I went pretty far west to a very green, residential community that Google Maps calls River Forest before calling her to clarify things.
But I was still amped. I took it as a good sign when I drove past this pretty mosaic.
Explore, indeed. I rerouted and soon found myself at the correct Ashland & Chicago, and then—after a laughter-filled call for further instructions from Kira—a few doors down, at…
The nice cashier looked at me, then down at a clipboard full of pie orders. “…Welcome to Chicago?” she guessed. “Yes!” I said – “I mean, thank you!”
“Oh, good,” she said, “my next guess was going to be ‘happy birthday.’” She slid a white cardboard box toward me. “Your friend ordered this for you.”
And so the little white box rode shotgun, and when I got back to the empty apartment we feasted on cherry berry pie and missed Kira and watched a summertime storm through our screen door. It was a good day.
Think about a time when you received a gift. More than likely, you appreciated the gift because it was personal and it was unexpected. The gifting was perhaps made even more memorable because the experience, while brief, was joyfully shared between giver and receiver.
I’d say the pie surprise definitely qualified as a capital-M Moment – and if EI! ever needs to launch an East Coast affiliate, I nominate Kira for Chief Moment Officer, Baltimore Office. All in favor?
Photos: Chicago, IL, July 2012
“When this interview series is over,” I keep thinking, “what am I going to post?”
And then I remember: Photos. I have photos of our new city. I have photos of pie. I have photos of my favorite baby on the planet. And I have photos of a wedding, and Copenhagen, and a wedding in Copenhagen.
I took so many photos on this trip – an embarrassingly high number. I’ve finished sorting and sifting through the digital ones but still have a lot of edits to make, so a preview blog post has felt out of reach. But then today I went downtown to pick up some of the film I’d dropped off.
I’m sharing a few here with zero edits, not because they’re perfect, but because I’ve got a Christmas-morning feeling about them. There were issues at the lab—namely, that it closed down, and the store I was working with had to find a new one—and a part of me feared I’d arrive today to learn about a disaster. What if the negatives were ruined? What if they were just gone?
Thankfully, they are not gone. To celebrate, here’s a little tiny slice of what I saw through my camera one month ago this week.
Kim and Sigurd, thank you for your patience as I try to do justice to what really was a spectacular, photogenic, magical day. I hope you enjoy these in the meantime!
Copenhagen, August 2012, 35mm film.
“People often compare it to running a marathon in terms of exertion/endurance, but you’d never just say, hmm, maybe I’ll start running a marathon at a random hour on a random day in the next three weeks.” – My cousin, who indulged me in this yoga photo shoot in the middle of her third trimester, on the prospect of giving birth.
I’d say she’s in pretty good shape nonetheless, wouldn’t you? Everyone send her good wishes for an easy and rewarding “marathon”! I’m so excited to play with and snuggle and do sun salutes with her kiddo someday.
Photos: All by me, NYC, June 2012. Full set here.
Awhile back my friend Hannah wrote a post called Play Practice: Gamify Everything in which she pointed out that if you add “game mechanics” to your life, you can become a better problem solver, be more mindful, and have more fun.
I couldn’t help but think of Anuj’s advisor and his crew when I read this. They’re all sharp people and I’m sure they work hard at their respective offices. But I honestly don’t know when and how they do it, because I’m constantly receiving emails like “I need you guys to chime in on this fake Chowhound thread about self-slicing watermelons” or “See you at the ball pit party this weekend?” They’re the most playful people—well, grown-ups—I know.
So it was fun to play dress-up and have a Serious Adult Evening with them when they treated us to dinner at the extremely beautiful Blue Hill at Stone Barns.
We’re smiling through our sweat in that group shot. It was a steamy June night, so the gents headed into the air-conditioned bar pretty quickly. I walked around the greenhouse with Alissa and Amber…
And then wandered solo outside the restaurant to see what things looked like behind the scenes.
Finally it was time to eat. I wish I could show you (well, feed you) so many things. I only took a couple of pictures inside because it was dark in the dining room and I wanted to focus on savoring everything. And if I had taken more pictures of the food, they wouldn’t match what you’ll eat if you ever go, because there are no set menus at Blue Hill. The chefs create whatever they want using the freshest ingredients at their fingertips and factoring in whatever dietary restrictions you mention.
When you’re seated you receive a little booklet with pages that list the expected harvest for each month of the year. Flipping to June’s page, we were able to predict that our dinner would likely include things like asparagus, strawberries, and peas. But we couldn’t possibly anticipate all of the ways those ingredients would appear, let alone the surprises we’d encounter along the way. At one point the server brought out an “experiment we’re trying just for fun,” placing a pile of bread in front of us along with two different “single udder butters,” and named the cows whose milk they came from (thanks, Daffodil and Sunshine). I asked if she was familiar with Portlandia, but then I tasted the two butters and shut my snarky face. They were shockingly different and so good – light and rich at the same time.
All in all it was a magical night. Anuj and I have tried but there’s no way to thank these folks enough – not for the dinner, nor for the ways they brought fun and play into our lives throughout our time in NYC. Thank goodness for road trips and weddings and the internet and work conferences; we’re gonna exploit ‘em all and be sure to stay in touch. We won’t always eat as well as we did at Blue Hill, but we are so happy to be able to feast on the memories.
Photos: All digital, and all but the group shot were taken by yours truly at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, June 2012.
We leave New York this Sunday. In between packing, work, and errands we’re constantly trying to cram in a healthy balance of familiar sounds and smells; adventurous meals and excursions; and quality moments with our people. We even optimistically scheduled a picnic for our last afternoon in town. So while we bustle about trying to get to a place where we can kick back and enjoy that, here are some lush green film shots I’ve taken in Central Park over the years. The sunshine is a little blinding, I know.
Photos: (1 and 2) Central Park, May 2012; (3) Central Park, June 2009.
I recently learned (via my friend Natalia) that Annie Liebovitz once said, “When I say I want to photograph someone, what it really means is that I’d like to know them.”
I feel that way about writing. I’m always dreaming up series of interviews I’d like to conduct, usually with people I know vaguely but want to know better – my smart, funny yoga instructor; a speaker I’ve encountered while attending conferences for my job; characters who have influenced my daily life in NYC who I secretly want to have a heart-to-heart with, like the guy at the coffee stand at 32nd and Madison who always slips me free pastries. Now that I’m transitioning professionally after six years at Idealist, I hope to launch at least one of these projects; stay tuned here.
When it comes to photography I haven’t been in this mindset. My impulses start closer to home. Granted, Annie Liebovitz can probably say “I’d like to know [insert name of any person on the planet]” and find a way to make a photo shoot happen. But these days I feel most compelled to grab a camera in one of two situations: when I’m exploring a place I want to know (expect lots more pictures of Chicago as I settle in there), or when I’m with a person I already know and I want to document them, as naturally as possible, right in that moment.
That’s why I loved taking pictures of my cousin this weekend; she’s eight months pregnant and wanted photos of herself practicing yoga. It’s a delightful thing to have someone you love say, “Can you bring your camera over and snap away while I move myself and my third trimester belly into a headstand?” and to be trusted to make that feel fun and comfortable. Or (brag alert) for two dear friends to say, “We could have chosen a local photographer for our wedding abroad this August, but we thought about it and we really want you there with us.”
Would I do pregnant belly yoga photo shoots for people I don’t know? Uh, I didn’t know it until this weekend, but SURE. Do I want to drum up more wedding gigs? Totally. For that matter, do I know that if my writing projects are going to grow (or a candidate I support is going to win or an event I run is going to happen), I’ll need to step outside my comfort zone and make some cold calls? Yes.
I want to put myself out there as an artist, documentarian, facilitator, advocate. I get why it’s important to “build my brand” if I’m going to make that happen. But I want to do it in a way that keeps relationships at the center. Relationships are my spark and my engine and they always have been.
I’m sure Annie Liebovitz doesn’t have deep relationships with every single person she’s photographed. But I think I hear what homegirl is saying. And I’m going to practice saying who (and where and what) I want to know.
Photo: New York City, June 2012.